Pictures by Colin Pusey
26th June - 29th June 2016
Since we had already claimed that last year's was the best ever holiday that John and Brenda had arranged, I was wondering how they would follow that.Members who went will have no doubts. We might wonder how good it could have been if it hadn't rained on us most days, but I think we will soon forget that, especially as the photographs don't look as though they were taken in the rain, apart from people's clothing and umbrellas.
Leaving from Notcutts, we had a different driver, Steve, as Alisdair has really, really retired from overnight trips! We wondered how much Steve had told him about us.It rained on the journey. We had a sandwich lunch in a big marquee, then looked at the garden, Dyffrin, near Cardiff in the sunshine (most of the time).It rained again as we drove to the hotel, and Steve dropped us at the door, after exhibiting some of his driving manoevres. ( There were several examples, during the holiday, some of which raised a round of applause.)
Rooms were good, food was good and staff friendly and helpful.
Monday dawned dry, to our surprise and stayed so for our visit to a garden that had something for almost everybody. It was a water garden, with operating, though small, water-wheel, filling a bucket chain that carried the water up a home-made stone tower, where it filled a cistern which then poured out of the mouths of two home-carved stone creatures' mouths. There was also a huge and fascinating cuckoo clock, with accompanying bird song, all water-powered, and an igloo- shaped building made of up-ended wine bottles, sealed between ribs of masonry. Inside was a reflective pool which picked up the colours of the bottles with the light shining through them. Alone, one would find it enchanting. There were ferns growing around the back of the pool, which added to the ambience. Several members suggested this was a dangerous garden for me to see. After a quick coffee, and having ransacked the little nursery we rushed on to Hergest Croft, lunch, a gallop round the garden, full of wonderful trees and an educational kitchen garden - gooseberries and currants grown on espalier wires at waist- and head-height, avoiding the need to bend whilst picking. Here again, was a wonderful little plant sales area, offering an excellent selection of home- grown trees, plus grafted Acers, and many other plants. John had been unable to resist taking us to the Red Kite Feeding Centre, since it was quite close, and we had to leave to get there at the appropriate time. It was more interesting than we might have supposed. We had to wait a while in one of the long hides overlooking the feeding area. The Kites were huge, and we were able to compare them with Buzzards and the many Rooks that came in to scavenge, although these were far outnumbered by the Kites. Hitchcock had nothing on these!
On Tuesday morning there were some long faces after the football results, but we visited Glansevern Garden, where an enthusiastic young woman told us about its features and encouraged us to enjoy it. There were lovely borders, a woodland walk with interesting specimen trees and shrubs, a path to the River Severn, a folly, a huge bronze hare, nearly as big as Graham and a grotto under a hill, crossed by a decrepit set of steps, which resulted in Helen calling to me, "Are you alright? Don't drop your iPad."
We moved onto Powis Castle, arriving in the rain, and divided into two sittings for lunch. The impressive terraces were still worth seeing in the rain, and we had the house to see as well. It was here, that, in conversation with another member and a steward, she asked if the little red soft- toy dragons were for sale in the shop. Steward didn't know, but our member explained that she had wanted a dragon for a grandchild and, unable to find a pattern, she'd bought an elephant pattern, and started from there!
On the return trip, Wednesday morning, we stopped at Birmingham Botanic Gardens, again in light drizzle. It has a sensible tearoom, giving a view across a large part of the gardens. A brisk trot round the peripheral path, past the cottage and it's garden, round the pond and rock gardens, through the butterfly house and aviary, not to mention the rose garden, Palm house, and hard to find Bonsai exhibition, brought us back to the cafe, shop and plants for sale. Steve kindly brought the coach to the door of the building, and we left a little earlier than planned, since rain had stopped play, and arrived in Norwich in good time.
Thanks again, John and Brenda for your time and energy in arranging yet another holiday for us. It is much appreciated.
Brilliant holiday! What rain?